Review: WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die: #12 The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWE Title, No Disqualification. WWE Wrestlemania X-7)

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(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31599441?contextType=wwe-show&contextId=wrestlemania&contentId=69745716&watchlistAltButtonContext=series )

Is this the best WrestleMania main event ever? The 100 Best Matches…List would have you believe it’s Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII in an Iron Man match (placed at #10). I’m here to tell you that the Iron Man match is a borefest (if I remember correctly). The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-7 is surely the best ‘Mania main event ever at the top of one of the best Manias ever. Austin vs The Rock had everything, from a good build, a clash of two top stars, drama, blood and a delicious twist. It represented everything great about the Attitude Era whilst signalling the end of said era.

First, before you watch the match, watch the pre-match video package. It includes the most inspired use of a Limp Bizkit song in history. It’s always good to go into a match knowing a little of the history between the participants. These two titans of the industry had clashed at a another WrestleMania, XV, and had feuded long before that over the Intercontinental Championship. However, during their feuds The Rock played the heel and Austin played the babyface. Here, both played the babyface. You wouldn’t know that by listening to the crowd’s reaction. It was a Texas crowd and they loved their hometown hero, Austin. The Rock was booed savagely. But both were the top stars in the WWE at the time. The bout was the most anticipated face vs face match since Hogan took on Ultimate Warrior (at #48-click here for my review).

It did not disappoint in the slightest. In fact, it outdid my expectations back in 2001. Austin had returned from neck surgery late the year before ‘Mania. The entire story of the match was based around Austin wanting the WWE Championship more than anything after being out of action for a year. However, his in-ring ability suffered. The only memorable match he had since his return was the 3 Stages of Hell match against Triple H at No Way Out 2001 (#67, click here for my review). That was bolstered by the No DQ and Cage stipulations. Could Austin wrestle without distractions? His match against The Rock may have been No DQ, but Austin put in one of the performances of his career. And so did The Rock.

Had the exchange of finishing moves been done before?

Austin, to loud cheers, took on a heelish personality during the bout. He viciously assaulted The Rock from the ring bell sounding. Jim Ross frequently commentates that Austin has never looked nastier or more violent, and it’s true. His desire to be champion is trumping everything else. He just wants to beat The Rock down until The Great One can’t stand up. Austin is the first to use a weapon, hitting Rock with the ring bell and causing him to bleed. For his part, The Rock is fighting an uphill battle against Austin’s savagery. It’s not long until he turns violent as well, using Austin’s own tactics against him. They reach a crescendo of false finishes, big moves, and using each other’s finishing moves.

There’s so much packed into this match that it’s hard to pick it all out. Throwbacks to Austin’s previous ‘Mania matches, like his match against Hart at ‘Mania XIII. Austin’s outrage at Rock’s resilience to his big moves. Throwbacks to their previous matches against each other. That twist. The crowd that’s ten times louder than anything you’ll hear at a WrestleMania in modern times. Yes, the crowd was white-hot. They reacted to every move, every gesture that each wrestler executed. Both wrestlers are in perfect sync with the crowd, bringing them up and down. It’s one of those matches that every wrestler today should rewatch over and over again.

Austin vs The Rock at WrestleMania X-7 represented the end of the Attitude Era. It encompassed everything great about the Attitude Era and dropped everything awful about the Era (trust me, there’s a lot of rubbish in the Attitude Era). They put on a fitting end to the Attitude Era. They put on the best ‘Mania main event ever. It’s full of drama, great in-ring psychology and a final ten minute stretch that will have you jumping out of your seat. What a pair of WWE legends.

VERDICT: 10/10. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock put on the greatest WrestleMania main event ever to end the Attitude Era. Enough said.

Does this match belong in the WWE Network’s Best 100 Matches To See Before You Die? Leave your comments below!

Click here for my review of #13 The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (No Disqualification, Streak vs. Career, WWE Wrestlemania XXVI)

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